The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

The little things employees end up doing while getting ready for work can add up to a big overtime bill later. That’s because courts often see such preparatory work, even if it benefits the employee, too, as work that must be compensated. Consider this recent case involving making the morning coffee and breakfast before the start of a shift.

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The little things employees end up doing while getting ready for work can add up to a big overtime bill later. That’s because courts often see such preparatory work, even if it benefits the employee, too, as work that must be compensated. Consider this recent case involving making the morning coffee and breakfast before the start of a shift.

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There are many good reasons to regularly review your employee handbook. But here’s another good reason to review and update your policies: A poorly written or overly broad handbook could result in unfair labor practices charges from the National Labor Relations Board. That’s true even if your workforce isn’t unionized.

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Sixteen of the firms on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list are headquartered in California, the most in the nation. Texas came in second on the Fortune list, with 13 companies.

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Sixteen of the firms on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list are headquartered in California, the most in the nation. Texas came in second on the Fortune list, with 13 companies.

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High-ranking and well-paid employees occasionally think about jumping ship and starting competing companies. And sometimes they try to poach business as they prepare to launch their own enterprises. An employer may never know until it’s too late that a presumably loyal employee was working against its best interests. If that happens to you, consult an attorney right away! In many cases, the former employee may be liable for any losses his predatory behavior caused.

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that employers that don’t have a formal sick-leave accrual policy don’t have to pay employees for leave they take to care for a family member. So-called “kin-care” benefits apply only if employees earn sick leave over the course of their employment.

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Some disabled employees seem to believe they can get whatever accommodation they want. That’s not true. In reality, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act gives employers great leeway to choose accommodations that suit their businesses. That can include telling the employee to take medical leave until she is well enough to return.

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Employees with multiple medical problems may need to be off work at unpredictable times. That can be a problem if a no-fault attendance policy requires terminating an employee with too many absences. If you don’t want to fire an otherwise good worker, it’s perfectly reasonable to accommodate him by excusing him from the attendance policy—as long as he can provide a doctor’s note.

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California courts are hard on employers that force employees to sign arbitration agreements. Judges often find these agreements unconscionable. And one of the quickest ways to end up with an unconscionable and invalid agreement is to cut the time an employee has to file a claim.

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